Dr. Melissa Neal Stein is Senior Research Associate within the Criminal Justice Area at Policy Research Associates, Inc. Currently, she leads broad technical assistance projects in which she works on issues at the intersect between the behavioral health and criminal legal systems, including a focus on racial disparities, trauma-informed care, and the role of people with lived experience. She directs communications for SAMHSA’s GAINS Center for Behavioral Health and Justice Transformation, which involves the production and dissemination of written materials and informational events to the national audience of behavioral health and criminal justice professionals. She is a certified Sequential Intercept Model mapping workshop facilitator and is a trainer/train-the-trainer for PRA’s Trauma Training for Criminal Justice Professionals. At PRA, Dr. Stein has provided technical assistance, research, and writing on assisted outpatient treatment programs, racial disparities in criminal legal and behavioral health systems, medication assisted treatment in justice settings, treatment courts, reentry support, and more.
Dr. Stein has been working to promote a public health approach to criminal legal concerns, including behavioral health needs, for over 15 years. She obtained her Master’s and Doctorate in Public Health from East Tennessee State University, where she studied the educational performance of children with incarcerated parents. In 2007, she co-founded Families Free, Inc., a non-profit organization supporting families interfacing with the criminal legal system. Immediately prior to joining PRA, Dr. Stein was the Criminal Justice Planning Manager for Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, where she led research and planning for the local criminal justice system, oversaw local collaborating bodies, and directed grant programs. Her work has been published in various peer-reviewed journals, including Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, Journal for Advancing Justice, and the Journal of Public Child Welfare. She currently sits on the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities. Dr. Stein brings knowledge and passion from her own experience and recovery from chronic trauma into her work. She resides in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her family.